Review: Air Pacific B747-400 Business Class and Island Hopping
Due to V Australia and (later) Jetstar entering Australia-Fiji market in Feb 2010, the ticket price have been reduced to very affordable level around A$400 return include tax for the 4 hours journey each way from Sydney to Nadi.
I have very limited time but the reductions in air fare have lured me to have a short vacation, a good opportunity to fly Air Pacific B747-400 one way and return on V Australia B777-300/ER. This report focuses on Air Pacific flight and its subsidary Pacific Sun Island Hopping flight.
Before departure, Air Pacific GM had kindly authorised upgrade for me and my girlfriend, which is really a nice gesture. I now looking even more to onboard their colourful B747-400.
Qantas agents handle all Air Pacific check-in and boarding process in Sydney. The gate of departure was 32.
Sydney Airport is undergoing renovation that time with more and more duty free and shops added inside the terminal.
“Island of Viti Levu” operating today’s Air Pacific FJ910 flight
The boarding atmosphere is a very relaxed one, with lazy Fijian music and warm Fijian flight attendants greeting all passengers. Only Door 1L was used for boarding. I don’t like these single aerobridge gate for B747 boarding. The loads today is about 62% , with 286 passengers out of 458 capacity.
Champagne/Orange Juice/water were kindly offered. The Business class have a total of 7 rows and 28 seats. It was only half occupied. The lay out is a typical nose area (Zone A) seating, which passenger enjoy maximum viewing pleasure and privacy without much share of noise and turbulence as the backseat passengers.
We closed door for on-time departure, there were little traffic in mid-day and we rotated quickly off Rwy34L heading North and Northeast direction. All US-Pacific bound flights fly over Sydney harbour/city and track direct easterly. It was a warm and nice day in Sydney.
Banking over Sydney City and track East
Once airborne, menu were handed out, so as a bottle of “Fiji” water and snacks. The Menu of Tabua (Business) class is a classic one as you can see here.
I like those coaster of FJ
Today’s in-flight service includes a full 4 course lunch of a starter, choices of 3 mains, dessert and cheese plate.
Smoke Salmon for starter.
My selection of roast chicken as main.
Cheese and Tea in “FJ” tea set
After the lunch, it was time for a quick tour of the airplane. This time the purser was very enthusiastic lead my way to explore the upper deck, economy and galley.
The Air Pacific Jumbojet holds 28J and 430Y total of 458 pax .
DQ-FJL is ex Singapore Airlines and Ansett Australia. The upper deck have Economy seating.
Upper deck Economy seating, only few smart passenger seated here on the flight.
Cruising the Pacific Ocean at FL 390
After my tour, I return to my seat and took an hour power nap. I didn’t explore the IFE although I understand it have a few channels run on video tapes in a loop. There is also a standard in-flight airmap channel.
We start the descend when the main land of Fiji view came through the window, it was around 6:30pm and with the soothing “Fijian” music playing through the cabin, the landing is a 100% relax one. It was perfect when you sit back, relax and enjoy the view of Fiji islands, the wave of ocean from your window and the music in the B747-400 cabin!
The Fiji shoreline came in view during descend
After a very smooth landing (usual on the B747), the friendly FA invited both myself and my girlfriend to meet with the pilot in command and he kindly took photo of us and allow us to stay there as long as possible. As a result, we’re the last passenger to enter immigration and queueing behind all the passengers.
We have a short but very sweet flight. The Air Pacific hospitality is great. I especially enjoy the Fijian music playing through the cabin during boarding and prior to land. It really makes people relax and get into the holiday mood. Indeed, the flight was too quick and I didn’t want to leave!
The next day we’re back to Nadi airport, this time to fly to Malololailai , an island about 10 minutes flight off the coast of Viti Levu
(main island of Fiji)
Pacific Sun operates the service with Britten Norman Islander 8 seater aircraft.
Terminal Nadi- Domestic and Int’l flights combined. Domestic check-in is on the left hand side.
DQ-FCX is the duty aircraft.
Flights can be booked easily online with reasonable cost. However, do note, flight are running on “Fiji” times, which means it may not always be the same time as your ticket says.
With a small inbound delay, we finally board the plane at 11:30
There were a total of 4 pax, I chose a good seat to sit directly behind the pilots. The Islander plane have 4 rows, which each row can sit 2 person.
2 Fijian pilot greeted us and gave us inflight briefing. The flight entertainment is using a paper fan to cool yourself down!
The flight took about 10 minutes and offer some great view over the reef and landing on the sandy airstrip is a plus! You can take the flight as a sightseeing special, as it is extremely scenic from above.
Please see this inflight video
After arrival in Malololailai, the Islander taxi to the terminal swiftly like a car!
Arrived in Paradise!
The plane is returning empty with only the pilots, I asked them whether they can put on a good show so I can photo the plane takeoff and I was not disappointed by the quick climb at the end of the runway!
As you can see, there is no fence, security check or guard deterring you to take pictures in Malololaiai., you can walk along everywhere but watch out if there is plane on approach. It is similar to St Maarten but of course no jets visiting.
After several hours of snokerling, relaxing in day spa and the bar in Plantation Resort, it’s time to return to Nadi. We apparently only just missed out our original flight by a few minutes as I mentioned the flights operate on “Fiji” time, but not strictly according to schedule. As a result, we have to wait for the last flight and I took some picture of the terminal and airfield.
At 5pm, the last flight appears in the sky and approaches over the beach!
See the landing video
The return flight took about 20 minutes, mainly because of giving way to a Air Pacific B747-400 to land (from Auckland FJ410) so we’re holding near the coast. There were only 2 of us on this flight so it is totally ours! Some storm were building up in the evening after a complete sunny day.
Flying over the long runway 02/20 of Nadi.
See the inflight video. A Fijian young lady is the pilot in charge.
We landed back in Nadi around 5:45pm and there were 2 large Air Pacific jets on the tarmac, no problem taking photos on the tarmac in Nadi.
The Islander flight performance was good to operate short air strip and it climbs fast and well. I strongly recommend use Pacific Sun to island hopping as the cost is just slightly more than taking the ferry. During our stay in February, it was beautiful and sunny most of the times with very clear night skies for stargazing! Fiji offers outstanding values for vacation to suits all budgets.
Air Pacific is a good reputable holiday carrier. The B747-400 is in a good condition (seems been refurbished). Although the Business Class seat does not offer lie-flat, it does offer a deep recline. Airline these days all tend to reduce the food and beverage budget, I hope Air Pacific can be an exception and continue to deliver outstanding customer value. A good tip for Economy traveler is to get seat request for Upper Deck seating at check-in.